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The Oban Times - - Districts -

More mus­ings from 1987

First the Scot­tish Tourist Board trans­ferred Cas­tle Tio­ram into Morvern. Now, in the High­lands and Is­lands De­vel­op­ment Board’s an­nual re­port, Ard­toe has been moved there as well. Is this a con­scious, con­certed ef­fort to have ‘Morvern re­vis­ited’ or is it all hap­pen­ing to keep the editorial team of ‘De tha dol?’ on their met­tle?

Dur­ing his Glas­gow Fair hol­i­days, a fella came into the Book Nook and asked if we had a copy of ‘No Mean City’. Said he: ‘It’s out of print in ‘Glesca’, but I thought it might still be in print up here.’ For­tu­nately he went on his way re­joic­ing with the one and only sec­ond-hand copy we pos­sessed. Aye, all the fun of the Glas­gow Fair.

Oh, but they do have such fun ‘Up the Hill’, where a young lo­cal ex­ec­u­tive left his 20s be­hind last week. A plac­ard had duly ap­peared in the front win­dow of his house. ‘Ian is 30 to­day’, it pro­claimed. Within min­utes a no­tice went up in the liv­ing room win­dow of the house across the road. ‘So what? My dad’s 55’, it read.

I ap­pre­ci­ated the alacrity with which Fort Wil­liam Com­mu­nity Coun­cil rushed to de­fend its hon­our which had been sul­lied by a Lochaber ratepayer from across the loch. The ‘sul­ly­ing’ oc­curred on Ra­dio Scot­land af­ter said ratepayer had been mis­quoted af­ter he said on air his com­mu­nity coun­cil had not met for months. Ra­dio Scot­land con­strued this to mean Fort Wil­liam Com­mu­nity Coun­cil. Into action sprang the pub­lic­ity ma­chine at Fort Wil­liam Com­mu­nity Coun­cil and a let­ter of clar­i­fi­ca­tion and jus­ti­fi­ca­tion was sub­se­quently read over the air­waves. It cul­mi­nated in Jimmy Mack’s ‘feed’ apol­o­gis­ing to the ‘good peo­ple of Loch-Aiber’!

I got my bless­ings af­ter go­ing on about how won­der­ful was the lo­cal weather fore­caster who chose Thursday as our mar­ket day. It rained like it had never done be­fore on the next two Thurs­days. But the buid­seachd was lifted last Thursday, thank good­ness, and the mar­ke­teers are speak­ing to me again. How­ever, on the pre­vi­ous two mar­ket days Seon­aid did do a roar­ing trade in wet suits and An­gus sold plenty of wet fish.

It was like a com­bi­na­tion of the League of Na­tions and the Tower of Ba­bel at a lo­cal camp­ing site and bunkhouse com­plex at the week­end. Ital­ians, French, Ger­mans, Amer­i­cans, the lot. And all of them shout­ing at the tops of their voices in their own tongue. Dur­ing this tur­moil, a cou­ple of tups broke free from where they had been shep­herded and were pur­sued by the el­derly sheep­man. One of the tups shot into the bunkhouse and when the shep­herd, along with the League of Na­tions, got there, all they could see in­side was the tup mak­ing sheep’s eyes at them. They then dis­cov­ered it was curled up on one of the bunks.

Dur­ing the de­lay caused by last week’s shunt at Fort Wil­liam Sta­tion, a bloke got off the train and hur­ried along the un­der­pass. Com­ing to­wards him was Jimmy. ‘Quick, pal, where’s the near­est boozer?’, cried the held-up pas­sen­ger. Jimmy was quicker than quick. ‘ You’re in luck, a’bal­ach. You’re talk­ing to him.’

The ami­able or­gan­iser of the mounted fancy dress com­pe­ti­tion at the Lochaber Show has been putting in reg­u­lar ap­pear­ances in his so­cial cir­cle once again. So Bob was the re­cip­i­ent of a great big ‘thank you’ from some of his show col­leagues in the mid­dle of the Happy Val­ley arena. Aye, they locked him in­side a cat­tle float. At one stage it looked as if Bob was go­ing to hit the drove road to For­far, but they let him out and he’s now hap­pily back in the fold.

Heard at last week’s en­vi­ron­men­tal health ser­vices com­mit­tee meet­ing in Lochaber House. Land­ward coun­cil­lor: ‘Does High­land re­gion have no in­put into th­ese toi­lets?’ Ur­ban coun­cil­lor: ‘No, it is purely a dis­trict coun­cil func­tion.’ And all said with­out even a flicker of a smile. Dead­pan, in fact. The de­bate got a bit bogged down af­ter that and you got the feel­ing some coun­cil­l­lors were only go­ing through the mo­tions...

I met Mar­garet Mac on the Rocky Brae on Mon­day. At least I think it was Mar­garet as I couldn’t see all of her for the weeds grow­ing like trif­fids all the way up. As she said to me, look­ing down at the dozen cars parked in the ‘pedes­trian pri­or­ity’ Cameron Square: ‘It’s okay if you’re a vis­i­tor, but to blazes with you if you’re lo­cal.’

This is my last word on the visit of the Prince of Wales. And it comes from a long way away. From Queens­land, Australia, in fact. Jean (Horner) Parkin was over there on hol­i­day from Hong Kong. She picked up a copy of the ‘Cairns Post’ and read the fol­low­ing: ‘Prince Charles, known to have a pen­chant for re­mote spots, went moun­taineer­ing in Fort Wil­liam, Scot­land, yes­ter­day, in his kilt, in re­turn for an in­scribed ice axe and a bot­tle of Scotch.’ Trust an Oz daily to get its royal pri­or­i­ties right. Said Jean in a let­ter home to the fam­ily in Lochaber: ‘It just let’s you see how fa­mous the Fort is all over the world.’

Home quote of the week came from Colin Neil­son Ju­nior to Colin Neil­son Se­nior. As he and Grace were away on hol­i­day, Colin se­nior phoned Colin ju­nior to find out the Fort re­sult against In­ver­ness This­tle. ‘Nine nil for This­tle, and our goalie got booked,’ was the vi­tal in­for­ma­tion. Ig­nor­ing the score, Colin se­nior asked why the keeper was yel­low carded. Came the re­ply: ‘For loi­ter­ing.’

Fort Wil­liam painters fresh­en­ing up Kin­loch Cas­tle on Rum in 1939.

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